Monday Monologues: Clarissa at Bush Theatre
This week’s Monday Monologue sees admired social media influencer, Takeshi, drunkenly livestream to her army of followers. Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s devastatingly poetic, humorous and poignant Clarissa is powerfully reminiscent of Samuel Richardson’s 18th-century novel of the same name. Like Richardson’s Clarissa, Takeshi is destroyed by the world that loves her so much in this compelling social commentary that touches on issues of identity and self-possession.
Fynn-Aiduenu questions social media-saturated modern culture and our idolisation of “real people” in this utterly meta monologue. The audience plays a vital role in the performance as Takeshi speaks directly to the camera, interacting with her imagined audience as they pop up on screen.
Maymuna Abdi carries the performance with energy, relying on emphatic facial expressions and a perfectly enunciated slur, in the limited performance scope of a screen. The camera becomes a vital prop as she holds it in one hand, jerks it around in drunkenness and even drops it on the floor. Takeshi’s relationship with her camera dictates the dynamic between her and her audience. At times, she owns the screen, directly addressing her audience, drawing us in with confidence. At other times, the camera seems to possess her, her face filling the screen, the audience overbearingly close.
Aiduenu’s slick writing combines slang, casual chit-chat and effortless lyricism. Abdi manipulates the swift change from over-performative direct address to rhythmic poetry with ease, indulging in every syllable of slang before slipping into melodious lines such as “a Glasgow smile that gleamed like a lunar eclipse”.
Full of witty, thought-provoking cultural tropes, Clarissa is a hard-hitting, powerful exploration of modern culture. Irresistibly poetic and charmingly produced, this is a vital six minutes of contemporary culture.